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Richard Rider

Compared to other states, CA has uber-high median home prices — coupled with much smaller lots and smaller houses

As everyone knows, buying a home in California is MUCH more expensive than buying a home in almost all the other states. Generally we compare states using the “median home value.” According to Zillow, the July 2020 median home value in the U.S. is $248,857. The CA median home value is $578,857.  BTW, the median home value in my San Diego County is $628,519.

CA has 11% of all the homes in America. If we take these CA homes out of the national average, then the median home price is the other 49 states is only $208,143. Thus the median CA home costs 2.78 times more than a median home in the other 49 states.

But it’s actually worse than that. There’s two other factors to consider that seldom are mentioned.
1. The size of the lot.
Below is an EXCELLENT graphic comparing the average home lot size by state. It uses the NET lot — full lot minus the house square footage. While the data is 9 years old, it’s reasonable to expect the state averages to remain roughly the same — especially compared to each other.Not surprisingly, in CA we have much smaller lots than most states. Indeed, only Nevada has smaller average lots — probably because of the high percent of townhome/condos in the Las Vegas/Henderson area.

How much smaller are CA lots? The average California home lot (5,575 square feet — SF) is about HALF the national average (10,871 SF). But remember, CA has about 11% of the nation’s homes — and those CA homes are part of the nation average. Take out the CA homes, and we find that the average lot in other 49 states is 11,526 SF).

2. The size of the house.

From the same source, we can find the average home square footage in each state.  Not surprisingly, CA has small homes (1,625 SF) compared to the national average (1,761 SF). Indeed, there are only four states with smaller average homes:
Ohio            1,620 SF (essentially tied with CA’s 1,625 SF)
Iowa            1,550 SF
Michigan    1,530 SF
Hawaii        1,308 SF

How big is the average lawn?

In the United States, residential lawns average 10,871 square feet (or roughly a quarter of an acre). This depends greatly on location.

For instance, the average lawn size in California is 5,575 square feet. This is calculated by taking the average lot size in CA, or 7,200 square feet, and subtracting the average home size, 1,625 square feet. Meanwhile, locals in Montana get more than an acre and a half of yard space. That’s 71,576 square feet!

See how your state’s average backyard size compares to the rest of the United States!

NOTE:  To enlarge this graphic, view it via the URL.